Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is all of Calvin all of Calvinism?

Someone recently remarked something along these lines to me: "I don't gravitate toward Calvinism because I don't like some things believed or held to by John Calvin."

That got me thinking.

First, a little on Calvin.

While Calvin is respected as a mighty theologian even by those holding to differing theological persuasions, he was not an angel sent from heaven. Just a man. A man who God mightily used. Indeed, Calvin was a man bursting at the seams seeking to reclaim, and proclaim, the great and cardinal truths of Scripture long held in obscurity and violently opposed by those who for a pretense paraded themselves as the servants of the most High God. He saw through this or, more accurately, God enabled him to see the truth - and when he did, the errors leaped out, as did the truth, again and again as he poured over the Scriptures, being guided by the Spirit of God. And he fought this fight, by the Lord's grace, with what the Lord had given him: a mind capable of great things and molded by grace and purpose to the task of whole Biblical exposition. While one may not agree with every satellite position John Calvin held to, it's my belief that the cardinal things he held to are the cardinal things to hold to.

Second, a little on the term "Calvinism".

While many erroneously (and understandably so) think that John Calvin invented "Calvinism", Calvin the man had actually been dead 50 years before the 5 points of Calvinism were framed! The label "Calvinism" was at first a tag conjured up years after Calvin's death by opponents to the free sovereign grace of God in salvation. These opponents were called "Arminians" and followed the teachings of James Arminius, a Dutch professor who had died in 1610 (source: The Five Points of Calvinism, WJ Seaton). “The Five Points of Arminianism were presented to the State and a National Synod of the church was called to meet in Dort in 1618 to examine the teaching of Arminius in the light of the Scriptures. The Synod of Dort sat for 154 sessions over a period of seven months, but at the end could find no ground on which to reconcile the Arminian viewpoint with that expounded in the Word of God. Reaffirming the position so unmistakably put forth at the Reformation, and formulated by the French theologian John Calvin, the Synod of Dort formulated its Five Points of Calvinism to counter the Arminian system” (source: ibid).

The Cardinal things

It's true that John Calvin believed in the free sovereign grace of God in salvation (the essence of Calvinism). However, it's equally true that Calvinism does not speak of everything John Calvin taught. In other words, some things John Calvin taught were, as it were, satellites to the cardinal things and therefore things to which Christian charity and liberty must be exercised amongst brethren, even in our day (I am thinking, for example, of forms of government and baptism, etc). Thus, saying that one doesn't hold to Calvinism because they don't like some things held by John Calvin is a bit like saying, "I don't hold to driving a Ford because I don't like some things held by Henry Ford." To reiterate and emphasize, while one may not agree with every satellite position that John Calvin held to, the cardinal things he held to are the cardinal things to hold to -- and such things are encapsulated wonderfully in Calvinism. In short, Calvin was a mere man; gifted, and a gift as he was. The Doctrines of Grace (another and perhaps better name for Calvinism) reflect a vital part of Calvin's theological heartbeat, but not all of him. That is why C.H. Spurgeon, who was a credo-baptist (i.e. believer's baptism by emersion; Calvin was paedo-Baptist and believed in infant baptism, though not regenerative baptism), could say unhesitantly of The 5 Points of Calvinism that they are "surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus."

I submit that we ought not to dismiss "Calvinism" because of its label, a tag originally coined by its opponents 400 years ago. While I prefer the term “Doctrines of Grace”, the term Calvinism is a nickname that, when those using it are properly informed, holds no disconnect to the Biblically sound doctrine it contends for nor the cardinal and chief things most surely believed by Calvin the man.

For an overview of the Doctrines of Grace ("Calvinism"), please read WJ Seaton’s excellent little booklet prayerfully, now online.

Sola Scriptura

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Lord's Day: Part 2 of 2

The New Testament Application of the Lord's Day

To start at Part 1 of 2, click here.

If there is a Christian Sabbath today, it follows that its application will emerge - perhaps even blatantly - as we compare Scripture with Scripture.

It strikes me that if we go to the 4th command itself (i.e. having established we are not sabbatarians whom we take to mean someone who believes the Lord’s Day is on Saturday) there will be clues there to help us apply it to our lives. The Exodus 20:8-11 text (NKJV) reads as follows: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”


The first clue is the word “remember”. This is both a warning and a command. This word tells me I will likely forget it, which I have found to be true in experience, for it takes no effort on my part to quickly forget the Lord’s Day. I must remember this and challenge myself on it when I find myself forgetting the liberty, freedom, and benefits connected with remembering the Lord’s Day, for we can quickly become slaves to elective work, play, self, and the world around us and in so doing dishonour the Lord and forfeit blessings that are ours.


The second clue is the word ”Sabbath” or “rest” and the word attached to it, being “day”. This tells me the Lord’s Day is to be a day when I rest spiritually and physically. I believe it is a day, not just a morning or portion of Sunday, but a day. The Puritans were known for this and were careful to set-aside all legitimate worldly affairs so they could worship and gather throughout the entire day. I don’t believe we are meant to set a legal stopwatch on this; rather, if our hearts realize the Lord has set aside a day for our good and particular worship, we’ll organize our affairs around that. I suppose a lot of practical things could be mentioned about what spiritual and physical rest ought to involve, but I think a lot of it should center on the next word, “holy”.


Much has been spoken about the word holy and by extension the holiness of believers in Christ and practiced, if not struggled toward, as a result of being saved and in the process of sanctification. I think the word holy speaks about being clean, and separate and distinct from sin, etc. Therefore, part of keeping the day holy is the faithful assembling with believers in a true and Biblically based gospel preaching church, which is distinct from anything else we do in the week. It seems the same attitude of deliberate distinctiveness in keeping the day holy with respect to attending church should similarly carry through to the rest of the Lord’s Day. For this reason, while avoiding a “can and can’t do” list, if the impetus behind what we do on the Lord’s Day is rooted in a right understanding of keeping it holy out of love and obedience to the Lord (i.e. distinct, separate, sanctified, etc), then decisions regarding elective work, numerous activities legitimate at other times, shopping, sports, etc., are far easier to discern as being either honoring to the Lord, or not. Following a morning service, I believe keeping the day holy is punctuated and capped-off by attending church in the evening where God’s Word is preached and hymns and reverent music sung, all with the intent, at least in part, of resting up the believer in the context of worship for the week ahead... to be salt and light in the sphere of influence God has ordained for each believer (Matthew 5:13-16). As a sidebar, the Biblical argument for a Sunday evening service starts here, I know of no other reason, other than to have another meeting or just to get together, which you may as well do on any other day of the week.


Another clue is the word “labor” and “work”. Christ has finished the work and we are complete in Him. As we set aside our works, both materially and spiritually, we make a statement to the world around us that we are Christians and that this world is second place to us. Of course, works of necessity are necessary but, wherever possible, resting from employment is what the Lord desires of us on this special set-aside day so we can focus on our Saviour and our eternal future secured by Him. And, just as keeping the Sabbath in the OT was a sign (i.e. that is, a sign showing the Lord sanctifying/consecrating His people and proclaiming Him to be the orderly Creator, Exodus 31) so keeping the Lord’s Day in post-resurrection times is a sure sign to believers who are in need of spiritual and physical rest while being a powerful signpost and consistent witness to the lost in our communities who need the gospel.

The Progressive Application

Last, are the words relating to the fact that this rest we have spoken of above relates back to creation itself, something touched on earlier, where God rested, blessed and hallowed a day of particular rest. This makes expectant sense as the continuum of the moral creation mandate is anticipated for, as we established at the outset, the moral law is an expression of God’s moral image and nature - and is eternal (Matthew 5:18, Romans 2:14-16). This is not to suggest sabbatarianism. On the contrary, the change from Saturday Sabbath to the Lord’s Day (Sunday Rest) is not a change in any substance of the eternal and immutable moral law of God, but merely a progressive application. By this we mean that Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday) sealing our redemption so we worship Him on this day according to the principals consistent with the moral command itself while excluding those OT observances that were ceremonial, not moral, these having passed away with the sacrificial system that prefigured Christ.

The Lord's Day Biblically Chiseled Out

I think the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689 sums up my humbly submitted thoughts and conscience far better than I might attempt:
  • “Under the Gospel neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship is tied to, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed. God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth, whether in private families daily, in secret by each individual, or solemnly in the public assemblies. These are not to be carelessly or willfully neglected or forsaken, when God by His Word and providence calls us to them.
  • As it is the law of nature that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, should be set apart for the worship of God, so He has given in His Word a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding upon all men, in all ages to this effect. He has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy for Him. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ this was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week and called the Lord's Day. This is to be continued until the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week having been abolished.
  • The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord by those who, after the necessary preparation of their hearts and prior arranging of their common affairs, observe all day a holy rest from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment and recreations, and give themselves over to the public and private acts of worship for the whole time, and to carrying out duties of necessity and mercy.”

The Lord’s Day: Concluding Thoughts

I confess, often I have sought to keep the Lord’s Day out of duty and a subconscious list of conduct, rather than obedient love to the Lord and for my own spiritual and physical well-being as well as that of my fellow believer... and the unsaved who watch, listen, and silently observe.

Yet, in spite of my abuse thereof, there is something very significant and important about this wonderful doctrine often forgotten or altogether neglected in the present day.

There seems to be historic precedent that when the Church is at low ebb, the Lord’s Day is least important. The opposite appears true in times of revival and persecution, when a full day of Christ-orientated rest brings to worshipful remembrance our heavenly home and Lord and the reason behind why we must toil and work in the first place, for now. In such times, the Lord’s Day seems to take on dramatic new and practical application even though the promises and moral commands of God apply in all seasons.

Closing Note: Professional Sport & Sunday - A Fresh Testimony. Euan M, is a rugby star who plays for Scotland. Like his fellow countryman and fellow Christian Eric Liddell (i.e. famous Olympic champion 1924 and focus of the Oscar film, Chariots of Fire), Euan has seen the importance of remembering the Christian Sabbath. Recently he wrote me and said he had signed a new contract to play for Scotland which included a unique clause that allowed him not to play on the Lord's Day. You can read about this in the UK press... it's interesting to see a few of the comments under this article that betrays a general lack of understanding of the 10 commandments and the Christian Sabbath in particular (Part 1 of this article addresses this). Please pray for Euan that the Lord might keep him as he seeks to honour the Lord with all his life.

Go to > The Lord’s Day, Part 1 of 2

The Lord's Day: Part 1 of 2


For the Christian, Sunday should be the most glorious, blessed, and liberating day of the entire week! But what are we to make of the Lord’s Day today? Does it even apply to us as post-resurrection believers? Wasn’t Sabbath observance just for Old Testament believers? And, if Sunday is specially relevant for the Christian today, where’s “the list” (is there a list?) of things we can and cannot do?It should not surprise us that there is much confusion around keeping a day when Christians ought to assemble together to reverently, earnestly, and joyfully worship the Triune God of eternity and the redeemer of their souls, according as the scriptures have taught us. The enemy of our souls is relentless is his attacks against God receiving worship from those He has purchased with His blood. But this should not deter us, but rather validate the pursuit.

Where Do We Start?

To structure-up a basis of understanding on the subject and application of the Lord’s Day it seems inevitable that we must start with something fixed and authoritative, something devoid of opinion, and based rather on objective and sound Biblical pillars. This means we must start at the beginning and work consistently out. And for that we must start with God which means we must start with what God says as specially revealed to us in His Word.

A Creation Mandate

Unlike the pagan gods who neither see nor hear, yet supposedly berate and whip, the one true God graciously gives his people rest, much needful rest. Think about that. Rest is a wonderful thing, a refreshing balm, a needful replenishing condition. And rest is as old as the earth itself, mandated by God at Creation (Genesis 2:1-3). The rest we will speak about below commenced at Creation and relates back to where God rested, blessed and hallowed a day of particular rest. That expression of rest does not end at some point, nor should we expect it to. And it should likewise come as no surprise that rest has inherent physical and spiritual relevance, for the continuum of this Creation mandate is scripturally entrenched as an expression of God’s moral image and nature – which is eternal (Matthew 5:18, Romans 2:14-16).

An Expression of God's Moral Image

The moral law (i.e. the 10 Commandments) is an expression of God’s moral image and nature and, importantly, is therefore eternal just as He is (Matthew 5:18, Psalm 111: 7-8 & 119: 89, Romans 2:14-16). If we establish that the moral law is eternal and unchangeable and that morality is not relative, then we can say that ten of the Ten Commandments apply today (Romans 6:15). If all ten apply, then the 4th commandment applies as well. This is not the same as saying that the law can save you or that by “doing the law” God will love you more, for to believe that is to deny the gospel and fall prey to legalism. That said, we must similarly be careful to not make the other error; namely, of saying the law is irrelevant and “anything goes as long as you love God”. The law is an expression of God’s moral image and is eternal, it doesn’t go away.

The bad news is that we have all broken God’s perfect law (Romans 3:10) and are deserving of Hell (Romans 6:23). The good news is that Christ came and lived under the law perfectly in the believers place (something we could never do) and then exhausted (not deflected) the wrath of God in our place on the cross so that His righteousness could be imputed (accounted) to the believer (Ephesians 2:8-9) and our unrighteousness could be accounted to Him. This is the gospel. The moral law does not disappear because Christ fulfilled it (Matthew 5:18). Because He fulfilled it, I am righteous. Because I am righteous in Christ, I now have a new heart (John 3 and 15). If I am truly born-again, I will long, though often fail (1 John 1 and 2), to obey God’s law and standards. In so doing, I am able reflect what God has done in my life through Christ, thus bearing a measure of fruit (Galatians 5:22-26) which in part graciously bears out to the believer that sanctifying changes are occurring which are the product of Christ’s work of conformity in the truly saved person (Romans 8). By extension, this is what Christ meant when he spoke of the believer being salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16) in a world antagonistic to the morality of God.

A few summary Biblical observations thus far:

  • All laws in the scriptures are based on the Ten Commandments including all past ceremonial and civil laws. The latter two laws passed away when Christ died and rose from the dead, for they foreshadowed Him, the eternal Word; however, the moral law of God, being an expression of God’s image and nature, is not a foreshadow but was actually and particularly fulfilled in Christ and therefore not subject to practical dismissal as a type as are the foreshadows. The moral law of God is immutable, it has to be, because God is likewise unchanging. The foreshadows only passed because of the incarnation of the eternal Son of God, the legal life of Christ, His death, and His resurrection.
  • Examples of the three “kinds” of laws are shown in the following passages: Exodus 31:18, Exodus 29:5-7, Exodus 22:10-12.
  • Christ’s imputed righteousness to the believer justifies the sinner just as if he had kept all the moral law (Romans 3:23-27); hence, justification by faith alone.
  • Though the Christian has remaining sin, by God’s power and grace, we are to seek to obey God’s unchanging law in joyful obedience (Matthew 22: 37-40, John 14:15) and so become more conformed, as true believers, to the image of God (Romans 8: 29).

How does this apply to the New Testament & the Lord’s Day?

If, as noted, we establish that the moral law is eternal and unchangeable and that morality is not relative, then we can say that ten of the Ten Commandments apply today and if all ten apply, then the 4th commandment applies as well. This should then be borne out in the New Testament, and indeed it is.There are numerous times in the New Testament where Christ appeared to the church gathered for Sabbath (rest) worship on Sunday (Matt. 28:1, Mark 16:2,9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1,19, 1 Cor.16:1-2) and instructions were provided for Sunday gathering that underscore the command to not forsake God’s house (Hebrews 10:25), the ekklesia (i.e. Strongs: a calling out…especially a religious congregation). The early Church Fathers and Church history show that the Christian church, as a matter of factual account, met on Sunday as the day of congregational worship which included, from time-to-time, administration of the ordinances (i.e. baptism and communion). The church historically has, and when not in times of persecution or apostasy, also set aside the entire day as the Lord’s Day. I believe this consistent witness (Hebrews 12:1) is significant and bears weight because it gives us clues about two important things that were already prior established under scriptural authority; namely: (a) what day the NT church is to formally gather for corporate worship and (b) in what manner believers are to hold the day.

But what day, Saturday or Sunday?

As Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday) having purchased and sealed our redemption and, as Christ is the first-begotten from the dead (Revelation 1:5), believers gather on the first day of the week in anticipation of that great rest now purchased, but not yet attained as we are still on earth. The text of Hebrews 4:9 is of use here for the “rest” in the Greek evidently speaks of “a keeping of Sabbath” which is a different Greek “rest” used throughout Hebrews 3 and 4. This tells us that there is still a Sabbath for the people of God – one purchased by Christ (and to be fully attained by the believer in glory) and one anticipated (and to be remembered while on earth in the assembly of believers on a day of rest, being Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead purchasing our eternal rest).

Go to > The Lord’s Day, Part 2 of 2.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Missions & Calvinism: Is there really a Disconnect?

I think sometimes there is a perceived disconnect between "missions activity" and Calvinism (also called the Doctrines of Grace) . Regrettably, I am personally not without need of rebuke in this area of inactivity and dullness of heart, but I don't think this can be said of the multitudes of other believers all over the world holding to the glorious Doctrines of Grace who are active in the work of the Lord.

To underscore this point, below is a very brief sampling of some churches / mission groups that hold to the Doctrines of Grace who are also very active in Missions, Evangelism and Church Planting, etc (of course, Christian "activity" should not be limited to these 3 branches of "outreach" as all Christians ought to be involved in ongoing "ministry" and actively seeking to proclaim Christ in their "sphere of influence", 24/7, in word and deed... "at the sink", place of business, in the family, etc). In any event, far from being disconnected or unaffected toward the grand "missionary enterprise", these and scores of other Calvinistic believers, are being used by the Lord as instruments for the advance of Christ's glorious Kingdom, all to His glory and praise!

The Doctrines of Grace fully encapsulate some of the choicest cardinal truths of Scripture and perfectly meld to the activity inherent to the Great Commission in what, one might term, the worldwide "Theater of Redemption". I'm sure not all holding to Calvinistic doctrine have had the zeal becoming of our profession (myself not exempted) but many, in even in our day, are applying it daily by His grace.

May His Kingdom ever grow, as it shall and is -- and may the Lord give grace to me, and you, to be actively engaged in it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Before the Throne of God Above

Whenever you sing a good hymn, you've just sung a good "sermon"!

I believe the Holy Spirit enlightens the mind through Biblical truth which in turn, for the believer, stirs the spirit to reflect joy and thanksgiving unto our Creator.

Below is one of my all-time favorite hymns. What a blessed thing to know the living God as personal Lord and Saviour, by His grace through faith. Do you know the Lord God in a saving and personal way through His Son Jesus Christ?

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands, My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands, No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb, My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM, The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die. My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high, With Christ my Savior and my God!

~ Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.

Note: If you would like to hear a sound clip of this piece sung by Southforth Singers, please click here and go to #5. We have this CD and it's a beautiful collection of hymns, well worth purchasing. This recommendation is unsolicited and no payment is received as a result.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Concluding Remarks on Biblical “Contradictions” by Howie


If any of my remarks came across as cross or ungracious, please forgive me, for that was not my intent or heart, just poor writing!

We care for your soul and that of your husbands. The most horrific thing will be to open ones eyes to hear the words, “I never knew you, depart from me…” (Matthew 7:23). Where does your hope lie? In man’s words or in God’s Word?

Truth does not have a shelf-life. The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). God has graciously revealed himself through general revelation (nature) and through special revelation (the Scriptures), the latter which is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). Call upon the Lord while He may be found.

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Turn to Him.

- Howie

Now it’s your turn!

The enemy of our souls is masterful at getting us distracted. I submit that the Biblical “contradictions” raised are distractions that lead away from Christ, life, and the truth.

I’m interested in what happens when I die, which I know will happen one day. Perhaps you are, too? What is the basis of authority you hold to that assures you of hope after this life? My basis of authority is “God-Breathed” (θεόπνευστος , theopneustos, 2 Timothy 3:16). What does your basis of authority claim, by whom, and based on what and, importantly, does it claim divine inspiration?

Here are a few other questions I’d like you to weigh in on:

1) Can you explain how the soteriology of the Bible is undermined or lacking when we learn that a totally depraved soul is only saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, on the authority of Scripture alone, and all that for the glory of God alone? Where in any of Scripture is this undermined or contradicted?

2) Can you explain how over 5,000 New Testament manuscripts alone agree in almost every single detail and the parts that don’t are so insignificant (like a letter in a word missing or a non-doctrinal element missing like the word “and” or “the”, etc) as to render Biblical doctrines totally consistent? Can you explain how 40 writers over 1,600 years could compile a book and it has the same message throughout that changes lives? Also, how is that throughout history (as we would expect) many have tried to destroy the Bible yet it remains the most-read book of all time? How is it that archaeological finds continue to confirm what the Bible says about historical events and prophecies, written hundreds of years before occurring, happen to the letter? Evidence never saved anyone, we need God to stir our hearts by His grace for that, but the many evidences concerning the Bible are overwhelming in their breadth and precision.

3) Can you show me how the Scriptural and progressive pieces of revelation as revealed in the grand Covenant of Grace (starting at Genesis 3:15 and right through to the end of Revelation), culminating in a subsitutionary atonement and justification by faith alone in both the OT and NT, do not line up and equate seamlessly with what the Prophets in the OT and the Apostles in the NT wrote under the inspiration of God?

4) What do you think of the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689? I believe this, though subservient to the Scriptures, to be an excellent statement of Christian belief on key doctrines pertaining to those "things most surely believed amongst us" (as true Christians). Please point out any “contradictions” you find in this document as each statement is backed and supported by the Bible as it's authority.

5) When was the last time you earnestly prayed and read your Bible and asked the living God to mercifully give you light that you might weigh your path, under His influence, against what He has divinely revealed?

No Biblical Contradictions Whatsoever

As I stated at the outset, every seeming Scriptural “contradiction” that can ever be posited will fall down under proper exegetical and systematic Bible study; it has to, and always has, by nature of the divine author that one would ultimately challenge.

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” - 1 Peter 1: 23-25

Biblical “Contradiction” #3

Stated “contradiction” #3 >

John says the next day after Jesus was baptized, Jesus began recruiting disciples the day after his baptism (John 1:35-52); Matthew says he went into the desert to be tempted (Matthew 4:1).

Response >

No contradiction whatsoever.

In order to address this seeming “contradiction” I went to an interwoven harmony of the gospels so I could see the proper timing and sequence of events. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the baptism and temptation of Christ as a chronology of event whereas John relates his conversation with the Pharisees similar to you or I answering a question regarding an event that has already taken place. If you read the entire chapter of 1st John in context to the overall text this becomes glaringly obvious particularly in light of the discourse of questions John had taken on from the priests, Levites, and Pharisees.

As Matthew Henry points out: “We have in these verses an account of John's testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which he witnessed to his own disciples that followed him. As soon as ever Christ was baptized he was immediately hurried into the wilderness, to be tempted; and there he was forty days. During his absence John had continued to bear testimony to him, and to tell the people of him; but now at last he sees Jesus coming to him, returning from the wilderness of temptation. As soon as that conflict was over Christ immediately returned to John, who was preaching and baptizing.”

It is written: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” - Romans 10:16

Biblical “Contradiction” #2

Stated “contradiction” #2 >

The genealogies o f Jesus in Matthew and Luke: They cannot be explained away by the argument I heard that one was Mary’s line and the other Joseph’s. Luke specifically says it’s Joseph’s line (Luke 3:23);...

Response >

No contradiction whatsoever.

The genealogies of Christ written in Matthew and Luke accomplish and record with precision an authoritative basis for accurately showing Mary and Joseph’s line and how that directly relates to the Seed and the subsequent gospel promised in the Adamic Covenant of Genesis 3:15. The genealogy approaches are a critical and necessary delineation due to God’s promises in Jeremiah and 1 Chronicles against the curse placed on Jeconiah. A reasonable exegete of this passage will show the incredible symmetry and cohesion of how Christ has both a physical right (through Mary) and a legal right (through his adoptive father Joseph) to sit on the eternal throne of David.

In terms of commentary, the following from Answers in Genesis (see: “When Adam disobeyed, the perfect fellowship he had enjoyed with his Creator was destroyed. God promised that one day, Someone would be born – a descendant of Adam – who would rescue His creation from the Curse that God has placed on it (Genesis 3:15). This person was Jesus Christ – the Messiah.”

“God promised that David would always have a descendent on his throne (Jeremiah 23:15; 1 Chronicles 17:10-14). The legal right to this throne was passed through David’s son, Solomon, to his descendants. Jeconiah (or Jehoiachin), a great, great…grandson of Solomon’s and King of Judah, was so wicked that God punished him by declaring that none of his children would ever again sit on the throne (Jeremiah 22:17-30). This caused a ‘problem’ since Joseph, the supposed ‘father’ of Jesus, was a descendant of Jeconiah. If Joseph had been Jesus’ biological father, Jesus would have a legal right to the throne, but would have been unable to occupy it due to being under Jeconiah’s curse. God solved this problem by using Mary: Jesus was the first-born son of Mary, a virgin (Matthew 1:23) and a descendant of David through another son, Nathan. So Jesus has the right to the sit on the eternal throne of David – legally, through his adoptive father, Joseph; and physically, through his natural mother Mary. In this way, God’s promise mentioned in Jeremiah and Chronicles was fulfilled.”

In God’s providential care of His Word, the genealogies of the Lord Jesus Christ were perfectly recorded as written in both Matthew and Luke. Far from “contradictory”, these records underscore the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. The Bible is replete with such depth of truth when dug into and studied under a sound hermeneutic and under the guiding light of the Holy Spirit who always works in concert and agreement to it, never apart. That 40 different writers (most of whom did not interact or know each other), over 1,600 years, wrote 66 books, all having the same message with precise cohesion and agreement is a mathematical probability and literary marvel that shouts out, One Divine Author. That thousands of manuscripts under the Traditional Text (TT) are preserved and corroborate is unparalleled in any historic documents anywhere (not even Plato and Aristotle’s writings come close to having such voluminous comparatives and accurateness available). Dr. Alain Cairns notes in his Dictionary of Theological Terms that over 90% of the NT alone is beyond dispute, down to the smallest detail and, as for the remaining 10%, 85% of that the manuscripts agree in presenting a common text (i.e. the poorest Greek text that could be produced from the available manuscripts would not alter one doctrine of the faith).

Biblical textual veracity is never what is lacking. The Biblical genealogies could not be more sound. The problem does not lie here, but in our hearts that are alienated from God (1 Corinthians 1:21). Every Biblical "contradiction" has it's root here.

It is written: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

Biblical “Contradiction” #1

Stated “contradiction” #1 >

Judas’ death: Matthew 27:3-10 says he hangs himself. Acts 1:18-19 says he fell headlong and burst open.

Response >

No contradiction whatsoever.

A brief and unpleasant study on hanging will show that the act of hanging can have various effects on the body. For example, decapitation occurs if the weight of the person is not regulated to the height of the gallows and the drop. It, therefore, does not take much imagination to consider how a botched hanging could result in a terrible secondary event, never mind a hanging with such spiritual implications as this one. It is not unreasonable that Judas hung himself and, at the same time, fell in some way resulting in an even more gruesome death.

Dr. Gill provides further insight and context:

Act 1:18 - Now this man purchased a field,.... This verse, with the following, seem to be the words of Luke the historian, which should be read in a parenthesis; for there was no need to have acquainted the disciples with the manner of Judas's death, which was so well known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; nor would Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of it, be mentioned with that propriety by Peter, when he, and those he spoke of, were upon the spot; nor could there be any necessity of his explaining a word in their own tongue, which they understood, and that in a language unknown unto them; nor does it seem likely, that in so short a time as five or six weeks, the field should have obtained the name of "Aceldama", and be commonly known by it. The Ethiopic version calls this field, "a vineyard"; and so it might be, and yet the potter's field too. It is somewhat difficult, that Judas should be said to purchase it, when Matthew says the chief priests bought it, Mat_27:7. Both are true; Judas having received his money of the chief priests two days ago, might not only intend to purchase, but might really strike a bargain with the potter for his field; but repenting of his sin, instead of carrying the money to make good the agreement, went and threw it to the chief priests, and then hanged himself; when they, by a secret providence, might be directed to make a purchase of the same field with his money; or he may be said to purchase it, because it was purchased with his money. The Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions render it, "he possessed" it; not in person, unless he was buried there, as he might be; and so all that he got by his wretched bargain, was only so much ground as to be buried in; or the sense may be, "he caused it to be possessed"; by returning the money which the chief priests used this way,

with the reward of his iniquity; that is, with the thirty pieces of silver, given him as a reward for that vile action of his betraying of his Lord and master: so the reward of divination, or what Balsam got by soothsaying, which was an iniquitous and wicked practice, is called, "the wages of unrighteousness", 2Pe_2:15.

and falling headlong he burst in the midst; either falling from the gallows, or tree on which he hanged himself, the rope breaking, upon a stone, or stump, his belly was broke, and burst; or falling from the air, whither he was violently snatched up by Satan, who was in him, and by whom he was thrown down to the earth, and who went out of him by a rupture made in his belly; or being in deep melancholy, he was strangled with the squinancy, and fell down on his face to the ground, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it,

and burst asunder: and all his bowels gushed out; through the rupture that was made. So we read of a man that fell from the roof of a house, \rtlch ô÷òéä ëøñéä åðôé÷\rtlch \rtlch îòééðéä, "and his belly burst, and his bowels came out" (l). And this was the miserable end of Judas. The death of Arius, as related by Athanasius (m), from Macarius the presbyter, who was present, was much after the same manner; who reports, that having swore to the orthodox faith, and being about to be introduced into the church at Constantinople, after the prayer of Alexander, the bishop of it, he went out to the seat, to ease nature; when he, on a sudden, fell down headlong, and burst in the middle, and immediately expired: and Epiphanius (n) compares his exit with this of Judas, who observes, that he went out in the night to the vault, as before related, and burst asunder, as Judas of old did; and came to his end in a filthy and unclean place. Ruffinus says (o), that as he sat, his entrails, and all his bowels, came from him into the vault; and so he died in such a place, a death worthy of his blasphemous and corrupt mind. As to the seeming difference between the Evangelist Matthew and the Apostle Peter, it may be reconciled by either of the ways before mentioned; see Gill on Mat_27:5 though it seems most likely, that Judas not being able to bear the torments of his mind, he hanged himself, as Achitophel did, and was not strangled by the devil, or by any disease; and that he fell down from the tree on which he hung, either the rope breaking, or the tree falling; and so the things happened to him which are recorded: or he might fall from hence, either through a violent strong wind which blew him down; or through the rushing of wild beasts against the gallows, on which he hung; or by the devil himself, who might throw him down from hence after he had dispatched himself, as some have conjectured: or, which seems best of all, he might be cast down from hence by men, either of themselves, or by the order of the civil magistrates, not enduring such a sight, that one that had destroyed himself should hang long there; and which, according to the law, was not to be admitted; and these not taking him down, in a gentle manner, but using some violence, or cutting the rope, the body fell, and burst asunder, as is here said: and it should be observed, that the Evangelist Matthew speaks of the death of Judas, in which he himself was concerned; and the Apostle Peter reports what befell his carcass after his death, and in which others were concerned. The Vulgate Latin renders it, and being hanged, he burst in the middle; as if this happened to him upon the gallows, without falling.

(l) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 56. 2. (m) Epist. ad. Scrapion, Vol. I. p. 523. (n) Contra Haeres. l. 2. Haeres. 68. (o) L. 1. c. 13.

Mat 27:5 - And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple,.... Upon the ground, in that part of the temple where they were sitting; in their council chamber, \rtlch ìùëú\rtlch \rtlch äâæéú, "the paved chamber", where the sanhedrim used to meet (m): for it seems they would not take the money of him; and he was determined not to carry it back with him, and therefore threw it down before them, left it,

and departed; from the sanhedrim: and went; out of the temple; not to God, nor to the throne of his grace, nor to his master, to ask pardon of him, but to some secret solitary place, to cherish his grief and black despair,

and hanged himself. The kind and manner of his death, as recorded by Luke in Act_1:18 is, that "falling headlong, he burst asunder the midst, and all his bowels gushed out"; which account may be reconciled with this, by supposing the rope, with which he hanged himself, to break, when falling; it may be, from a very high place, upon a stone, or stump of a tree; when his belly burst, and his guts came out: or it may be rendered, as it is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, "he was strangled"; and that either by the devil, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks; who, having been in him for the space of two or three days, caught him up into the air, and threw him down headlong; and dashing him on the ground, he burst in the midst, and his bowels gushed out, and the devil made his exit that way: or by a disease called the squinancy, or quinsy, a suffocation brought upon him by excessive grief, deep melancholy, and utter despair; when being choked by it, he fell flat upon his face, and the rim of his belly burst, and his entrails came out. This disease the Jews call \rtlch àñëøà\ltrch ,\ltrch \ltrch "Iscara"; and if it was what he was subject to from his infancy, his parents might call him Iscariot from hence; and might be designed in providence to be what should bring him to his wretched end: and what is said of this suffocating disorder, seems to agree very well with the death of Judas. They say (n), that -

"it is a disease that begins in the bowels, and ends in the throat:''

they call death by it, \rtlch îéúä øòä, "an evil death" (o); and say (p), that "there are nine hundred and three kinds of deaths in the world, but that:

\rtlch ÷ùä ùáëìï\rtlch \rtlch àñëøà, "the hardest of them all is Iscara"; which the Gloss calls "strangulament", and says, is in the midst of the body:

'' they also reckon it, \rtlch îéúä îùåðä, "a violent death" (q); and say (r), that the spies which brought a bad report of the good land, died of it. Moreover, they affirm (s), that:

"whoever tastes anything before he separates (i.e. lights up the lamp on the eve of the sabbath, to distinguish the night from the day), shall die by "Iscara", or suffocation.''

Upon which the Gloss says, this is:

"measure for measure: he that satisfies his throat, or appetite, shall be choked: as it is said (t) he that is condemned to be strangled, either he shall be drowned in a river, or he shall die of a quinsy, this is "Iscara".''

(m) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2. (n) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 33. 1. (o) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 62. 9. (p) Beracot, fol. 3. 1. (q) Gloss. in T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 19. 2. (r) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 35. 1. (s) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 105. 1. (t) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 30. 2.

Source: Dr. John Gill (1697-1771).

Seeming “contradictions” can serve to miss the truth in more ways than one. The death of Judas is instructive with a great and merciful warning. Judas and Peter both denied the Lord. Judas never repented in a saving way; he may have been sorry and realized the heinous evil of what he had done and could no longer face himself as a person, but he never loved the Lord nor ever trusted him as Redeemer (Acts 1:25). In contrast, Peter “went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75), repented, obeyed His Saviour, and shortly thereafter preached boldly saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2: 38). Two “religious” people, but only one in heaven. One was unrepentant and hardened to his own explicit self-direction and self-rule, the other broken, humbled, and then mightly used of God.

It is written: “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” - Psalm 37: 35-37

Isogesis or Exegesis? One Leads to “Contradiction” the other to Truth

It’s not hard at all to twist or read what we want into a passage of Scripture. Theologians call this “isogesis”. When you do so, you can come up with many so-called “contradictions” and skewed interpretations of Scripture which results in error or outright apostasy. In contrast, what is required is a solid hermeneutic that permits a proper exegesis (i.e. a critical explanation and interpretation of the Bible) under the guiding and gracious leading of the Holy Spirit who always works in concert with the Word, and always leads the humble seeker to truth (John 6:37, 17:17).

Unlike man’s finite reason, the Scriptures of truth do not have a shelf-life because the infinite author of truth is immutable (1 Peter 1:25).

The "Contradiction" Trick

It is not by degrees of chance that the enemy of our souls relentlessly attacks the very thing able to make us wise unto the very thing we need (salvation) -- and that is the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15). I submit that the “contradictions” you are about to perilously embrace, or have already perhaps started to accept, are nothing short of age old tactics that can be traced back to the fall of our first parents (Genesis 3:1) and the horrific tragedy that resulted (for sin resulted in death, spiritual/physical, awful).

Do you recall how the contradiction trick went?

The devil said: “Hath God said…?” And then… you guessed it… his contradiction: “You shall not surely die”. True or false? False, of course. Sin brought death (Romans 5:12), which effect no rationale person can deny.

The enemy of our souls is still contradicting the Words of the living God. He uses every available means to do so and, at every turn, seeks to distract us away from the cross (our need) by any method we may be prone to. In short, the fruit may take different forms, but the outcome is always the same when we listen to him, rather than the one true and living God (1 Timothy 2:5).

What’s really at the root of ALL Biblical Challenge?

The Scriptures claim to be “God-Breathed” (θεόπνευστος , theopneustos, 2 Timothy 3:16, etc). That is either true of false. If true, it follows that God, being true, will not contradict what He alone has sanctioned and providentially preserved and decreed in His Holy and inerrant Word (John 17:17, Romans 3:4).

At the heart of all Biblical challenge is spiritual unbelief, not intellectual incompatibility, though the latter is often sited and held onto for dear life, ironic as that is, by those who professing themselves to be wise have become fools (Romans 1:20-21). In short, the θεόπνευστος (theopneustos, God-breathed) words of the living God have always been anathema to those who are unregenerate and know not the Shepherd in a saving way, for they do not hear, nor heed, his voice (John 10:5).

The doctrine of man’s total depravity explains this cause and effect. The reversal of the awful curse of sin in man (which curse, as a byproduct, includes placing our finite understanding above that of the infinite Creator) is only possible and wholly dependent upon the unconditional love of a dying Redeemer whose substitutionary atonement is alone effectual to the saving of souls inherently and utterly predisposed, and thus justly deserving, of physical and spiritual (hell) death.

When we challenge what God has said we must inevitable join Job and confess, “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not... wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes “(Job 42:3,6).

We will either bow our knee in the day of grace or in a day of judgment (see Isaiah 45: 22-23 and Romans 14:11).

Contradictions? You sure about that?

Hello HN,

If I may, I’d like to present for your examination some reasonable rebuttals to the seeming initial “contradictions” you presented on Facebook.

Time does not allow me to respond to all 6 of the “contradictions” you have raised nor the “hundreds” of others you say you have on hand. As a case in point, however, I’ve taken the first 3 “contradictions” you listed and provided a response for you to examine and I’m certain the 1st three “contradictions” are representative of all the other “contradictions”. Indeed, every seeming “contradiction” that can ever be posited will fall down under proper exegetical and systematic Bible study; it has to, and always has, by nature of the divine author you ultimately challenge.

Kindly bear with me, I felt a need to first build a presuppositional context before directly launching into a rebuttal of the seeming “contradiction” symptoms. I trust you will read my response prayerfully and with open Bible for it is “the entrance of thy words that giveth light” (Psalm 119:130), not me.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”. John 10:27

- Howie

First Post

This blog has been put online to respond to a friend who has presented several seeming "contradictions" that are in the Bible.

It is relatively easy to pose questions and cast doubts on the Bible, or anything for that matter, but another thing to give a reasonable response. That being so, and rather than post an apologetic on Facebook or on her personal blog thereby eating up far too much room, I thought it might be best to post the responses here!

The evidence against contradictions and for Biblical whole veracity is astounding. Yet evidence never saved a person. The Holy Spirit in concert with the Word of God alone can regenerate a dead soul who cannot see or help themselves.

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. - 2Timohty 3:15.

Sola Scriptura - By Scripture Alone . Sola Gratia - By Grace Alone . Solo Christo - By Christ Alone . Sola Fide - By Faith Alone . Soli Deo Gloria - Glory To God Alone